The Corner Office

Are Your Customers Seeing You As You Intend?

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When was the last time you called your own phone system? If you don’t remember, now is the time to make that call. Literally, stop reading right now and call your own main number—not somebody’s office, call the one that rings to your auto attendant.

If you’re like many people, that may have been a pretty jarring experience, and you’re thinking, “Wait, we’re still saying that?” I know, because I recently called into a client, a multi-unit small business, and their automated attendant gave me a several-minute spiel about their COVID-19 precautions. Which wouldn’t be so bad, if I hadn’t recently been at their location and seen that three-quarters of their safety precautions had been dismantled.

In fairness, some of those precautions were excessive, like only having one person in the store at a time. Others were normal things like mask mandates and distancing policies, but I didn’t just get the current, normal safety information. I got an entire presentation on precautions that they probably haven’t taken since April 2020. So instead of an easy experience, this customer had to wait through prompts to push buttons that no longer worked (like the one that directed me to same day testing sites that no longer existed).

Scenarios like this are why I think right now is the perfect time for an audit of all the places where you’re going to market and selling. This is especially important for media companies, because historically, media companies do fantastic work pushing out messaging, information, and new content across various channels, but less fantastic work at sharing information about themselves that might be of interest to their business clientele.

If you were shocked on any level when you called your voicemail, start checking out your social media presence. For groups that have multiple brands or divisions, look at every single one. How’d they do? Is there a logical presence there? Could your business clients find relevant information about you when they go to your Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business, etc.?

Don’t stop with social media either. Your website should be the primary source of information for business contacts, so make sure that the information presented is relevant to the way you’re doing business today.

For example, you’ve probably seen a lot of changes in how you do business over the past year. Are those changes reflected on your site? I don’t just mean blogs or other content—I mean, can someone who wants to do business with you access relevant and helpful information?

For most people, you’ll fall into one of two camps.

The first, and I believe more common, scenario is that you changed a lot on your website when COVID started, and then keeping it updated fell to the wayside. Are those protocols still in place? Or does your website spend a whole lot of space talking about processes that have been dismantled? Make sure your information is updated and in keeping with what’s actually happening with your business now as opposed to what was happening six months ago.

If this doesn’t sound like your situation, my guess is that you didn’t update your website at the start of the pandemic. And I get it—there was a lot going on. Regardless, now updating your site needs to become a priority to make sure your business processes are accurately reflected to potential clients.

Making sure your business decisions make sense in this moment doesn’t stop with your online presence or your automated voicemail. Do your products and services make sense for the market as it is today?

Years ago, a new brand manager at Procter & Gamble cataloged how many Tide packages they were offering and found that there were more than 100 different versions being stocked in stores. At one time, every product had a good reason for being made, but that time had passed.

He narrowed down their product offerings to about 20. Not only did this greatly simplify their production process, but it led to an increase in sales because it turns out that consumers would rather pick one Tide product out of five instead of looking through dozens of options.

I think this is a great example for the present day. A lot has changed lately—new product offerings, altered safety precautions, shifts in logistics, and rearrangements in staffing. So, take a page out of P&G’s playbook. Re-evaluate what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, and you may find that in simplifying processes and updating information, you can make it easier for clients and customers to engage with your business in a way that makes sense today.

Doug Phares is the former CEO of the Sandusky News Group. He currently serves as managing director of Silverwind Enterprises, which owns and provides management services to small businesses. He can be reached at doug@silverwind.biz.

Read more of  Doug Phares’s “The Corner Office articles on EditorandPublisher.com

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